CPSIA Update: Chaos Unleashed by the Failure to Heed Warnings

By March 30, 2009General, Regulations

Wall Street Journal’s lead editorial today is on the Consumer Product Safety Improvement Act, “Pelosi’s Library Quarantine“:

It looks like “Jumanji” in local libraries these days, after the classic children’s book about chaos unleashed by the failure to heed warnings. In February, an overzealous law governing lead in products resulted in toys going from store shelves to the trash heap. Now, confusion over how the rules affect children’s books has led some libraries to rope off kids’ sections.

And the conclusion,

Nancy Pelosi boasted last summer that the toy safety law would mean products weren’t merely made differently in the future but would be removed from the shelves today. That’s the real source of this mayhem, as she was amply warned at the time by Democrat John Dingell, among others. Ms. Pelosi prevailed, and now the harm to thousands of businesses, charities and even public libraries is manifest. Since the House Speaker won’t admit a mistake and fix the law, the CPSC must do what it can to prevent more damage to the already challenging economy.

H.R. 4040 passed the House last year with just one no vote and three nays in the Senate. So let’s concede that passage of this extreme, unclear and economy-damaging legislation was a bipartisan mistake. And then let’s fix it.

Walter Olson at Overlawyered.com notes that while ATVs have drawn the most notice, kids bikes are also affected by the CPSIA’s inflexible, unreasonable lead standards.  And in the Bookroom Blog entry he links to, “Bikes and Kids,” the writer Valerie makes an important point about who’s being hurt by the CPSIA:

This wouldn’t occur to many in Washington, but in America the wide and ready availability of all kinds of used children’s products–books, educational supplies, clothing, toys, bikes and more–really is a mercy to low income families. Low-cost, minimally used children’s products can go a long way toward closing the gap between the wealthy and poor, in terms of childhood experience. CPSIA directly attacks one of the greatest blessings that disadvantaged families now enjoy in our advantaged country. Please, think about it.

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